2:37 Murali K. Thalluri

2:37 Murali K. Thalluri

I’m on the fence as to what to think about this plunge into the snake pit of teenage anguish. On the one hand, it’s clearly made by people who care about the issues and want to do good by them. On the other, the execution is so awkward and derivative that it grates in all the wrong ways. The film opens with the discovery of a suicide in a high school, one whose identity is kept from us. The rest of the movie is devoted to the travails of various students in the days leading up to the death. Homosexuality, bulimia, rape and various other issues are introduced, as well as the not very subtle suggestion that one of these kids will be the person to die — but who? The film is no-holds-barred in its attempt to rub teenage suffering in our faces and if nothing else, it makes you think about the choices faced by people without real choices. But director Murali K. Thaluri is a bit obvious in the way he handles their exchanges and first-person confessions, often dipping into cliché both dramatically and thematically when he should be sussing out the complexities. He’s also way too enamoured with Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, from which he cribs everything from the long takes to the classroom discussion of homosexuality to some guy playing the piano. One goes back and forth from wincing at the intense pain of the characters and wincing at the gauche presentation of same, making for an experience that’s frustrating in ways both good and bad. The only extra: a series of "behind the scenes” clips that conceal as much as they reveal. (TVT)